June 8, 2023

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India is all set for Chess Olympiad

Located on the Bay of Bengal in the east of the country, this metropolis of seven million people is the home of legendary world champion Viswanathan Anand, the first Indian Grandmaster in history.

Chennai is also the birthplace of International Master Manuel Aaron, the first Indian chess player, and hosted the World Championship in 2013, which resulted in Norwegian genius Magnus Carlsen’s maiden crown, precisely defeating local idol Vichy. Anand.

For many, India is the birthplace of chess, dating back to 600 BC, when it was played under the Sanskrit name “Chaturanga”, meaning the four divisions of the Indian army at that time: infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots. .

The 382-year-old city is recognized as the chess capital of India with its rich cultural heritage, historical and heritage sites and its modern and robust engineering and medical facilities and educational institutions.

International Chess Federation (FIDE) President Arkady Dvorkovich said it was a great honor for India, the “home of chess”, to host this year’s prestigious tournament in Asia, organized since 1927. After 30 years.

The historic event at the four points of the Sheraton Convention Center in Mahabalipuram, one of South India’s premier tourist destinations, has so far attracted entries of 343 teams in the open (189) and women’s (189) categories. 154)

Teams comprising more than two thousand players from 188 countries around the world will battle it out for the highest honors in the tournament, which is expected to surpass the 190 participating countries in the coming days.

Earlier, the 2018 Olympiad held in Batumi had a record 184 and 150 teams from 179 countries in the open and women’s categories respectively.

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All India Chess Federation (AICF) secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan said the event will take Indian chess to new heights.

For India, one of the countries that have awarded the highest number of Grand Masters titles in recent years, AICF’s secretary said hosting the next Chess Olympiad would give the game more visibility among cricket-loving people.

According to the director, thanks to the continuous efforts of the AICF and its affiliated state associations, chess is now a professional option for the youth of the South Asian country, and this has brought about a huge change in the sport at the grassroots level.

Under the umbrella of AICF, more than 250 International Chess Federation (FIDE) rated events and up to 10 international tournaments are held across India every year, providing a setting for greater exposure to the development of Indian players.

In the past decade, India has tripled its number of chess grandmasters (GMs) and now has 72 players at this rank, starting in 1988 with its star Viswanathan Anand, who was the fifteenth world champion from 2007 to 2013.

Till 2010, India had 23 GM titles, already in the period from 2011 to 2021, it has increased to 73.

Grandmaster Koneru Hampi, the youngest woman to reach the scroll at 15 years, one month and 27 days.

Hampi became the Junior World Champion in 2001 and became the second woman to break the 2600 ELO coefficient barrier.

Also, Harika Dronavalli is the second Indian Grandmaster regardless of gender to win the World Youth Chess Championship in the Under-14, Under-18 and Under-20 Women’s categories.

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This year FIDE was looking for a new host for the tournament, which was initially scheduled to take place in Russia, due to the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine.

The 44th Olympiad, scheduled to be held in Moscow and Gandhi-Mansikil, was shifted to India after the FIDE Council approved AICF’s bid to host the event.

Preparations for the upcoming Olympic Games are in full swing and as the fantasy curtains of the big championship are still some time away, the organizers want to guarantee its success by working round the clock throughout the week.

“We will organize the most spectacular Olympiad in history,” Chouhan enthused, ignoring the enthusiasm of all his colleagues for this chess feast, and his gratitude to the Chennai-based Tamil Nadu government. to Govt of India for their support.

As parallel activities, there will be three seminars organized by FIDE for referees and coaches, as well as two events played in Blitz mode -one of the rapid type and the other of the classic type-, as well as a football tournament and a series of cultural events, which will give more intelligence to the fight.

An admirer of Cuban legend Jose Raul Capablanca, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of chess in Latin America and the Caribbean is the name of the legendary world champion from the Caribbean island.

By way of farewell, he tells us that Cuba is one of the best chess countries, which excites him to give a warm welcome to the next Olympiad.


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Brenza Latina’s chief correspondent in New Delhi.